Angela Merkel accepts her 2008 refusal to welcome Ukraine into NATO

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended her refusal, in 2008, to initiate the process of admitting Ukraine to NATO in the face of criticism from current President Volodymyr Zelensky who regretted the “fear absurd” demonstrated by certain leaders at the time.

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The former German official, who left politics at the end of 2021, says in a short statement released by her spokesperson that she “assumes her decisions from the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest”.

In a video message Sunday evening, Volodymyr Zelensky had criticized the refusal, in 2008, of NATO to integrate Ukraine because of the “absurd fear of certain political leaders with regard” to Moscow.

The latter “thought that by rejecting Ukraine, they could appease Russia”, criticized the Ukrainian president.

Mr. Zelensky also suggested to Angela Merkel, today without official function, as well as to the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to go to Boutcha, a town north-west of kyiv recently taken over by the Ukrainians, where many bodies of civilians were found in the streets or mass graves.

“I invite Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy to visit Boutcha and to see what the policy of concessions towards Russia has led to,” launched Mr. Zelensky.

“In view of the atrocities uncovered in Bucha and other places in Ukraine, all efforts by the government and the international community to stand with Ukraine and end Russia’s barbarism and war against Ukraine have the full support of the former Chancellor,” replied Merkel’s spokeswoman in her message.

The Chancellor, who remained at the head of Germany for 16 years, has hardly spoken since the start of the conflict.

A few months after her departure from power, at the height of her popularity, she is now being criticized for having lacked firmness towards President Vladimir Putin and her policy towards Russia is the subject of severe criticism. involved, including in his camp.

The conservative leader, who governed for several years with the Social Democrats in a grand coalition, is also criticized for making Germany dependent on Russian gas.

At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, Germany came out against the launch of the accession process for Ukraine and Georgia, a position shared by President Sarkozy, believing that it were not stable enough democracies.

Another person subject to harsh judgments, the head of state Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who served as foreign minister in two of Merkel’s governments, admitted on Monday that he had made a “mistake” by supporting the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. 2, between Russia and Germany.

“My Nord Stream 2 membership was clearly a mistake. We were clinging to bridges that Russia no longer believed in and that our partners had warned us against,” said this elected Social Democrat, according to comments reported by the German media.

For the German president, “the relationship with Russia was and remains something fundamental, even sacred”, had criticized this weekend the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk.

The gas pipeline supposed to double Germany’s supply capacity for Russian gas was finally suspended indefinitely by Berlin in February.

The Social Democrats now in power have been strong supporters of a rapprochement with Moscow.

Mr. Steinmeier was counting on the fact that “Vladimir Putin would not accept the economic, political and moral ruin of his country for his imperial madness”, he explained on Monday. “Like others, I was wrong,” he concluded.

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